Environment at Risk – Grass Carps Invade the Great Lakes

According to a latest scientific research, the invasion of dangerous grass carp in three of Great Lakes is posing great environmental risk. However, a report on last Friday revealed that there is still time to control the situation.

The grass carp spotted is categorised as one of the four Asian carp species moving towards the freshwater ecosystem. The invasion is threatening for the existence of native fishes in the water system. Out of the four grass carps, silver carp and bighead are most dangerous as they would make the native fishes suffer for both food and habitat.

Areas of invasion

The species are seen in Lakes Ontario, Erie and Michigan, but still their exact number and widespread remains unknown, as reported by the Canadian and U.S. researchers. However, they have confirmed out of the total number, some are definitely fertile.

The spokesperson for Great Lakes Fishery Commission, Marc Gaden said, “For the first time, we have a binational, peer-reviewed study by some of the best minds and practitioners in the field who have a consensus on what the risk is to the Great Lakes from grass carp, and it’s pretty substantial”.

They were first introduced in the United States waterways around 1960s with an intention to get control of the weed growth. From there, some migrated towards the Great Lakes through Mississippi River. Gaden added that the presence of a few grass carps was known since quite a long time. There is a possibility that before the erection of electric barriers in the Chicago waterway network, they might have escaped into Michigan Lake.

Eventually in the last few years, the number is found increasing and there is a threat of the existence of fertile grass carps in the lakes. This brings a threat of wide invasion of the water system. The carps released in the lakes were sterilized, whereas, the spotting of fertile fishes has in turn surprised officials.

Since 2012, 23 grass carps have been found in Canada waters, out of which 5 were caught from Lake Ontario, Toronto, as reported by the program manager of Asian carp for Canada fisheries, Becky Cudmore. She said that sterile fish has exceeded reproductive fish, as of now. She also added to it that more fertile are found in the recent days. The environment is under great threat, as these carps are suspected to escape into the areas of Lake Erie, Michigan, Ontario and Huron within the next decade, if no necessary steps are implemented.

Initiative taken by Researchers

Gaden assured that the researchers are analysing the situation and making efforts to prevent this establishment. Strict laws are enforced against their release to the regions can help prevent reproducing fish from the hatcheries.

Blocking waterways placing nets in their spawning areas while they reproduce might also prove effective, said Cudmore. Further, she added that they were spotted before but the invasion procedure has just begun. It is high time to take suitable actions against the threatening situation.


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